Top Historic Sights in Valletta, Malta

Explore the historic highlights of Valletta

Grandmaster's Palace

The Grandmaster"s Palace was built in the 16th century as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, who ruled Malta, and was also known as the Magisterial Palace. It currently houses the Office of the President of Malta, and part of it is open to the public as a museum. The Grandmaster"s Palace was originally built in 1569, as the palace of Eustachio del Monte. It was purchased by Grand Master Je ...
Founded: 1569 | Location: Valletta, Malta

St. John's Co-Cathedral

St. Johns Co-Cathedral was built by the Knights of Malta between 1573 and 1578, having been commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the conventual church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, known as the Knights of Malta. The Church was designed by the Maltese military architect Glormu Cassar who designed several of the more prominent buildings in Valletta. The church is considered to b ...
Founded: 1573-1578 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Church of Our Lady of Liesse

The Church of Our Lady of Liesse was built in 1740 on the site of a 17th-century church. The first stone of the Church of Our Lady of Liesse was laid down on 21 November 1620, in a ceremony attended by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt and many other members of the Order of St. John. The church was built with funds donated by Fra Giacomo De Chess du Bellay, who was the Bailiff of Armenia. The church was completely rebuilt ...
Founded: 1740 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Saluting Battery

The Saluting Battery is Valletta's ancient ceremonial platform from where gun salutes are still fired regularly. Equally, the passage of time is marked twice daily from her with gun fire at noon (12:00) and sunset (16:00). The battery itself is located at one of the capital's highest vantage points from where splendid vistas of the Grand Harbour and its surrounding towns can be enjoyed. Its origins go back to the time wh ...
Founded: 1566 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Our Lady of Victories Church

Our Lady of Victories Church was the first church and building completed in Valletta. The church was built to commemorate the victory of the Knights of the Order of St John and the Maltese over the Ottoman invaders on 8 September 1565. It was built on the site where a religious ceremony was held to inaugurate the laying of the foundation stone of the new city Valletta on 28 March 1566. A church was chosen as the first bui ...
Founded: 1566 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Manoel Theatre

The Manoel Theatre is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe. Constructed in 1731 by the Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena the theatre is a baroque gem with a wonderful acoustic and a full calendar of events populated by local and international performers, with productions in English and Maltese. The theatre is located on Old Theatre Street in Valletta. It considers itself as the country"s national theatr ...
Founded: 1731 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Casa Rocca Piccola

Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Valletta and home of the noble de Piro family. The history of the building goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build a prestigious city to rival other European capitals such as Paris and Venice. Palaces were designed for prestige and aesthetic beauty in most of Valletta"s str ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Valletta, Malta

St. Dominic Basilica

The Basilica of St. Dominic is one of the three parish churches of Valletta. It is administered by the Dominican Order whose convent is located behind the church. The land upon which the church and convent are built were given to the order by Grand Master Pierre de Monte. Girolamo Cassar was commissioned to draw up the plans. The first stone was laid on 19 April 1571. The parish was established on 2 July 1571 by a decree ...
Founded: 1815 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a Roman Catholic church in the Maltese capital Valletta and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes the entire city of Valletta. The first church was dedicated to the Annunciation. It was built around 1570 on the designs of Girolamo Cassar. In the 17th century it was given to the Carmelites and thus received its present patronage to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The ...
Founded: 1570/1958 | Location: Valletta, Malta

St. Nicholas Church

The Church of St Nicholas is a Greek Catholic church in Valletta. It was originally built to serve as a Greek Orthodox church in 1569. Following the Union of Brest in 1595-96 the Greek Catholic Church came into existence. It was in 1639 that the then parish priest decided to separate from the Orthodox church and join the Greek Catholic Church. Some time later it was decided to rebuild the church to the design of the Ital ...
Founded: 1595/1652 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Fort St. Elmo

Fort Saint Elmo is a star fort commanding the entrances to both harbours along with Fort Tigné and Fort Ricasoli. It is best known for its role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. By 1417, the local militia had already established a permanent watch post on the tip of the Sciberras Peninsula. In 1488, the Aragonese built a watchtower on Saint Elmo Point, and it was dedicated to Erasmus of Formia, better known as Saint El ...
Founded: 1552–1570 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Fort St. Angelo

Fort Saint Angelo is a large bastioned fort in Birgu, located at the centre of the Grand Harbour. The fort was originally a castle, and its date of construction is not known. It definitely existed by the 13th century, and in the Middle Ages it was known as the Castrum Maris. It was rebuilt by the Order of Saint John as Fort Saint Angelo in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it played an important role in the Great Siege of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Valletta, Malta

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.